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EPALE - ríomhArdán d’Fhoghlaim Aosach san Eoraip


EPALE discussion: digital skills as a way of accessing learning opportunities

ag EPALE Moderator


EPALE Online Discussion Digital Skills


As part of our April-June 2020 focus on Digital skills as a way of accessing learning opportunities, EPALE is organising an online discussion.

The large number of adults with poor basic digital skills represents a major obstacle in achieving an inclusive society and reducing social inequalities. Too few adults have access to adult learning resources, and this has a real impact on their personal development and employment prospects.

Providing adult-specific teaching methods to help trainers to become more effective in their work requires specialised training and continuous professional development geared towards adult-specific teaching strategies.

Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced everyone to adapt to new ways of working and pushed adult educators to explore and adopt new online tools and techniques to allow them continue their training and learning activities.  

The discussion will take place on this page on 27 May between 10:00 and 16:00 CET and will be moderated by EPALE Thematic Coordinator Altheo Valentini and by EPALE Content Assistant Claudia D'Eramo.

► Share your stories, tips, case studies and good practices with the EPALE community!

Also, if you’ve ever been involved in successful projects, or if you have developed any relevant methodologies – share your story with the other participants in the comments below!

The discussion on 27 May will include the following topics:

  • digital inclusion
  • barriers to digital access
  • distance learning
  • how to reshape adult education at the times of Covid-19

► Comments will be open on 20 May so participants can introduce themselves or post their comments in advance.

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Cath Harcula's picture
Hi  I'm finding the discussion so far really interesting.  From my experience of taking part in online training in the past and engaging in meetings and learning activities during lock down I'm interested to know your thoughts about the extent to which tutors can respond to the needs of individual learners in an online situation.  I feel that it is difficult for tutors because they have to prepare the content in advance and can't divert from their plan as easily s they can face to face.  Also it is easier for a learner who is struggling to understand or is not engaged to switch off (maybe literally) or to escape the tutor's notice in an online situation.
Dörte Stahl's picture
Hello, Cath,
for me as a tutor, the two things you describe are the big challenges. I have been involved in digital education (but also teaching face-to-face courses) for a long time and I always come back to it.
1. Digital education requires a lot of planning and preparation, especially when working asynchronously on learning platforms. It is difficult to deviate from the plan, because this quickly confuses the structure of the learning content and you cannot immediately adapt this structure (because everything is written and fixed). If you spontaneously deviate from the plan, you will confuse many learners. For example, if I say: "Some learners want to work on topic C. right at the beginning and not tomorrow because it is especially important for them - so let's do it this way", then others lack the structure. In face-to-face courses I can change the sequence of the topics very quickly and orally present and establish the connections again and again.
2. Learners are sometimes less involved because they are not always addressed directly (in asynchronous learning).  Over the course of time, I have developed a whole range of possibilities to reintegrate these learners. I ask (via chat or in forums) many open questions that anyone can answer and I send mails when someone hardly participates and ask the learners why they hardly participate at all. I also try to include small challenges that have nothing to do with the content of the course. These are challenges as we know them from Facebook or Instagram: photos of your life, your favorite object at home ... I do this because I have experienced that these side issues lead to a better involvement of the learners (even those who have difficulties understanding).
Such small, more private and funny actions, in my opinion, shorten the distance that many learners have to struggle with.
Sangeet Bhullar's picture

Hi Cath,

Good questions. I think to some extent it depends on how the online sessions are structured and facilitated. For example, are the sessions interactive? Are participants expected to keep their video on, or are they expected to take part in the online chat, where questions can be posed. In our sessions, we build in interactive activities, so participants also link in and provide reflections, or complete tasks using a Padlet before the webinar resumes. 

Best regards,


Cath Harcula's picture
Hi Sangeet  It sounds as if you have well trained tutors who are using good practice.  I think staff development is a key to effective use of digital learning. Perhaps you could share your work on the EPALE platform in a community story? Thanks
Dörte Stahl's picture
Right you are: "staff development is a key to effective use of digital learning".  And of course you also need a fear-free working atmosphere, because not everything works right away in digital education. Sometimes a learning method is not accepted by participants and sometimes it hampers with technology, which is stressful for teachers and learners.
Katja Maintinger's picture
I am in the last week of my Erasmus semester in Latvia and regarding to the outbreak of COVID 19 we had to switch to distance learnning. In addition to that I am finishing my Erasmus semester from home via the internet, very strange times nowadys! The distance learning was very good-organised in Latvia and within two weeks we had all of our courses via MS-Teams that was very practical because we didn`t need to compensate our presence with additional tasks. However distance learning was quite a challenge because it was quite difficult to stay focus all the time, because you have so many aspects in your flat that catches your attention. In addition to that it was sometimes hard to motivate yourself for all the indepent work you have to do. I really missed the "normal" environment, being with other students and seing the professor and being part of a different culture!
The learning process was more different than the years before because we had to adjust our learning to this new situations and I think that every university should think about a concept regarding distance learning so that students have a solide learning process and a good learning outcome. I am very satisfied with my learning process and with the distance learning our university did in Latvia.
Our professors in Latvia were very dedicated and made their online courses very interesting, additionally to that, they also made me feel very comfortable and I always had the feeling that they care what I did and how I was in this pandemic. This leads me to the result that the teacher has, as always in the learning process, a very important role and helps the student to stay motivated and to succeed in their learning!!
Lena Triendl's picture
Hey everyone!
I´m an Austrian Erasmus student (teacher training)  who has been studying in Riga at University of Latvia for this semester. The current Situation required to fly home to Austria and I´ve continued my studies via distance learning of my Latvian host University.
I can tell that this has worked without any problems.  Most of the teachers did their very best to conduct online meetings every week which was a good opportunity to understand learning contents better and to ask questions. Obviously, this would never replace face-to-face meetings in the future but in this situation it helps to maintain structure and to keep in proper touch with the teachers and the class/seminar-group mates. 
I could imagine having such online meetings not as a replacement of face-to-face lectures/Seminars but maybe as a supplement for urgent questions rather than clarifying everything via email. 
I really hope that we can go back to face-to-face meetings very soon as I´m missing the personal interaction with my group-mates a lot !
institut WELTGEWANDT's picture
Dear all, It is just today that we published our Wiki on various aspects of #digitalisation. Find the link and a short introduction on our project's website. Feel warmly invited to comment, share, like! The wiki results from KA2 partnership for an Exchange of Good Practises with partners from Germany, France, Romania and Spain. See also our FB page.

Anita Apine's picture
How to transform adult education in Covid-19 times?
Latvian libraries experience May, 2020. If you look at library social networks or websites, the "upcoming events" section says "no upcoming events." Libraries in Latvia are one of the centers of adult education, therefore, the usual events as  computer training for seniors, various events of non-formal adult education programs - lectures, master classes, off-site sessions do not take place at the moment.
This (adult education transformation) could be the next issue after the partial access to library funds currently performed by Latvian libraries. 
Starting from May 14, 2020, the possibility to exchange books, magazines and CD / DVD was renewed in Valmiera Integrated Library, Latvia. For security reasons, free access to bookshelves, press reading room, computer reading room,  etc. not yet updated. At the moment, we are starting to think very carefully about organizing events, including full-time adult education events. Just thinking.  
But while we think, the library still invites the townspeople to try the remote services of Valmiera Integrated Library, which can be done by filling in the FORM (downloadable Word document) and sending it to library e-mail. If possible, they can sign it with a secure electronic signature. If the e-signature is not currently available to the client, then he / she will be able to confirm his / her identity on the first visit to the library. After receiving the completed questionnaire, we register the client as a library user and send the authorization data for registration in the e-book library and instructions for accessing e-books. 
From this description you can see that it requires quite high digital skills. For this we offer remote consultations. And this is an intensive time to learn digital skills.
Even today the library user are able to use all the remote services of the Valmiera Integrated Library. Its are many. And at this point, I would like to say that, thanks to the emergency situation, the average digital skills in society as a whole have dramatically improved. Current offers of the library:
Everything is in the attitude: either you squat and get out of the pit, or raise your hands and lie on the bottom. We get creative and are back to our library users